Those in close contact with me will be aware that I am squarely in Africa musically. I have been there for some weeks and am having trouble leaving the Lagos rabbit hole but I shall endeavour to provide a wider ambit of beautiful covers. Some of these will of course reflect where I am musically at the moment but I will make a special effort to cover a range of covers.
Fela Kuti – J.J.D – Johnny Just Drop – 1977
In his lyric for ‘J.J.D. (Johnny Just Drop)’, Kuti lampooned Nigeria’s “been-tos,” people who had been to Europe or America to work or study and then returned (“dropped”) home with European pretensions and an inferiority complex about African culture. Lemi’s front cover portrays a suited-up been-to, dressed like a cartoon British toff, as he parachutes into a Lagos street to the bemusement of the locals. Vinyl Factory
This is both an amazing record and amazing covers. On the back cover, the plane company of the plane from which Johnny drops is called ‘Ofersee Hairways’, a stab by Fela of the change in hairstyles which ‘been-tos’ espoused on their return to Africa. Just excellent this cover. The ‘been to’ sweating in his nice suit is a reference made in an earlier album, Gentleman, where Fela derides westernised locals for, as he saw it, having delusions of grandeur which cost them dearly in perspiration.
Transmission – The Music of Beverley Glenn Copeland 2020
Before my Afrobeats phase, I was squarely in the camp of the wonderful Beverley Glenn Copeland. Copeland’s ability to weave together beautiful harmonies with minimalist elements kind of melts my brain. I sent the live version of Erzilli, the final track of Copeland’s self titled debut album, Nick commented that the album art work of this album is very nice. and he is quite right of course. The stained glass window effect of this bird flying towards the light is gorgeous. This is a very pretty album cover indeed and an extraordinary album overall.
Bjork – Vespertine 2001
Bjork is bizarre in the most wonderful way. Her 2001 album Vespertine is no exception. The dress on the cover will be recognised from her unforgettable 2001 Oscar ceremony red carpet look, which remains one of the most famous Oscars looks of all time. The album also features an overlaid swan which has been deemed so excellent that it has been tattooed on numerous of her fans. Also seeing her in a state somewhat similar to that experienced by St Theresa in the famed Bernini sculpture is a lot of fun.
Rush – Hemispheres – 1978
The album’s cover depicts the conflict between the two gods, represented as men atop opposite halves (hemispheres) of a large human brain. Apollo is on the left side, wearing a black business suit and bowler hat and holding a cane, while the naked Dionysus beckons to him from the right side. Rush Fandom
What more is there to say? This 1978 Rush offering is among my top three Rush albums. I love Rush and will always have a place for them in my musical pantheon. The fact they have used Greek mythology and created a frightening brain straddling story from this is very impressive to me. The album is also an astonishing feat and I recommend you listen at once!
Fame – Grace Jones – 1978
This was the third album in the Grace Jones / Tom Moulton disco trilogy, released when she was starting out in music. The cover art features a drawing of Grace along the lines of some of Issey Miyake’s sketches, Issey being a close friend of Grace at the time. I think it’s quite beautiful and of course, Grace can do no wrong in my eyes.
The back cover is excellent also and inspired me to get a tattoo in the style of this signature, eventually. See this below:
I shall see you again for Five Favourites August edition.